The Squat

The squat is the first event in a powerlifting meet and the most nerve racking, primarily because you wear the most equipment and feel the most vulnerable standing under all that weight. It is also the lift that requires the lifter to be almost perfect in terms of form and technique—especially when the weight approaches double or triple body weight. As we mentioned, for the squat attempt to be deemed good, you must lower your body until your hip joint is below your knee joint. In other words, below 90°. Such a maneuver is what keeps orthopedists in business.

Deidre squatting in competition—start.

Deidre squatting in competition—finish.

Here are the elements required for a near-perfect squat during a competition:

> The setup. How the lifter approaches and gets underneath the bar is probably the most psychological aspect of the lift. Approach with fear and more often than not you're likely to miss. Approach with a mixture of nervousness and confidence, and you'll nail it almost every time.

> The walk out. Once you have come under the bar, you must stand with the weight on your back and walk backward so you don't hit the squat racks. The best way to walk out is to use the least number of steps possible. The more steps you take, the more the weight bounces on your back, throwing off your balance and rhythm. It also gives you too much time to think about just how much weight you're carrying on your back. The best walk out is to take one step back and stop.

>- The squat. Once you've stopped moving your feet and are focused and steady, you are given the signal to squat. The best way to begin the descent is to hear the signal, take a deep breath, and squat. (Some people take several quick, shallow breaths before squatting, which just wastes time and energy.) One breath and squat is all you need. Basically, the more time you have the weight on your back, the heavier it begins to feel.

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